Monday, 25 February 2013

Don Woods

Don Woods (c. 1927 – June 12, 2012) was an American meteorologist and cartoonist. He was the first television weatherman in Oklahoma to hold a degree in meteorology. He started his Oklahoma career in 1954 on Tulsa's ABC affiliate television station, KTUL. He used a cartoon character called Gusty during his weather forecasts every night, drawing on-air, with a reference to recent weather as the focus of his simple line-drawn character. Woods used Gusty to demonstrate how to be weather smart during thunderstorm and tornado activity. At various times, Gusty would also be drawn swimming, fishing, water skiing, or playing American football.

Gusty was a responsible individual — raking leaves in the fall, mowing the grass in the summer, or sometimes just relaxing with a good book. Every night during the weather forecast, Woods would announce a winner for that night's original Gusty. The Gusty drawings became one of the longest promotions for KTUL, lasting from the mid-1950s until Woods's retirement in 1989. 

Gusty drawings are installed in Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Woods's work was part of a 2010 exhibition on Oklahoma cartoonists at the Oklahoma History Center. Woods has received numerous local, state, and national awards and recognitions. Perhaps as a testament to his love of weather, Don Woods taught at Tulsa Community College for a time. And as for a sign of recognition for his influence on those that watched his weather reports, and Woods' live drawings of Gusty, a special honor came to him in April 2005, when Gusty was named Oklahoma's state cartoon.